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Published October 20, 2015 | Published
Journal Article Open

Extended Baseline Photometry of Rapidly Changing Weather Patterns on the Brown Dwarf Binary Luhman-16


Luhman-16 (WISE J1049-5319) was recently discovered to be a nearby (~2 pc) brown dwarf binary that exhibits a high degree of photometric variability (Δm ~ 0.1 mag). This is thought to be due to the evolution of "cloud" features on the photosphere, but Luhman-16 has been found to show unusually rapid changes, possibly resulting from fast-evolving "weather." This target is of particular interest because it consists of a co-evolutionary pair of brown dwarfs spanning the transition between L and T spectral types (L7.5 and T0.5), which are expected to be associated with changes in cloud surface coverage. Being comparatively bright (I ~ 15.5 mag), the target is well suited for observation with the new Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network (LCOGT) of 1 m telescopes. We present long-time baseline photometric observations from two of LCOGT's southern hemisphere sites, which were used in tandem to monitor Luhman-16 for up to 13.25 hr at a time (more than twice the rotation period), for a total of 41.2 days in the SDSS-i' and Pan-STARRS-Z filters. We use this data set to characterize the changing rotational modulation, which may be explained by the evolution of cloud features at varying latitudes on the surfaces of the two brown dwarfs.

Additional Information

© 2015 The American Astronomical Society. Received 2014 April 15; accepted 2015 September 10; published 2015 October 20. This research has made use of the LCOGT Telescope Network, and the LCOGT Archive, which is operated by the California Institute of Technology, under contract with the Las Cumbres Observatory. K.H. is supported by a Royal Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellowship and by the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) grant ST/J001651/1. C.H. and G.L. highlight the financial support of the European Community under the FP7 by the ERC starting grant 257431. This research has made use of NASA's Astrophysics Data System Bibliographic Services. Facility: LCOGT - Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope.

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August 20, 2023
August 20, 2023